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N Korea at crossroads

Cold War patience seen as key to ending US-North Korea deadlock

South Korea's Moon to make Oslo speech on Trump-Kim summit anniversary

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet at the Capella Hotel in Singapore on June 12, 2018. Subsequent talks between the leaders in Hanoi earlier this year broke down.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in will mark the anniversary of the first U.S.-North Korea summit on Wednesday with a speech in Norway to lay out his vision for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

He sees similarities between the current situation at home and the peace process in the 1970s that reduced tensions between the West and the Soviet Union. Earlier this week in Helsinki, where the two blocs signed the Helsinki Accords, he told Finish parliament leaders that he believes the U.S. and North Korea will resume talks soon, saying that dialogue channels are open.

"President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un continue to show their will for talks, even though the Hanoi summit ended with no agreement," Moon said on Monday in the Finnish capital, as part of an eight-day swing through Scandinavia. "The peace process which overcomes more than 70 years of hostility will never be easy, but we should prepare for this with patience like the Helsinki process."

The neutral European nation hosted a summit between Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin last year and has expressed willingness to host a third Trump-Kim summit.

But as the breakdown in their talks in Hanoi earlier this year show, Washington and Pyongyang remain at a stalemate on how to achieve peace.

Analysts stress that both sides have to play it slowly for some kind of deal that has North Korea dismantle its nuclear facilities in exchange for a relaxing of sanctions and a security guarantee.

Robert Gallucci, distinguished professor of the practice of diplomacy at Georgetown University, said the facilities should include the Yongbyon nuclear complex and sites related to material production for atomic weapons. The former U.S. diplomat who has negotiated with North Korea added that "significant sanctions relief" would be necessary.

Some experts are skeptical that Washington sees any need to move now because Pyongyang is pushing so hard for sanctions relief.

Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev shakes hands with U.S. President Gerald Ford after their first round of talks at the American Embassy in Helsinki on July 30, 1975. The talks led to the Helsinki Accords that reduced tensions between the Cold War superpowers.   © AP

"According to the [U.S.'s] logic, North Korea cannot help but surrender to the pressure of the sanctions as times goes by," said James Kim, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. "Moreover, the Trump administration thinks the North Korean issue is contained at some level as long as North Korea does not commit [nuclear] test or high-level provocations."

Despite the collapse of the Hanoi summit, Kim believes the peaceful mood created by the Singapore talks in June last year will continue at least until the end of the year -- a deadline set by the North Korean leader to break the deadlock in the stalled nuclear talks

"The U.S. has put engagement and dialogue at the center of its North Korean policy [since the summit]," Kim said. "And that is supported by the Congress and think tanks, even though they are very skeptical of North Korea's denuclearization."

Trump has played down a couple of sets of short-range missile tests in May. On a recent trip to Japan he tweeted that he does not view them as disturbing -- a statement at odds with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had to contend with North Korea firing rockets over his country in 2017.

The American president last week left the door open for a third summit with Kim, despite a recent North Korea warning to the U.S. to change its course of negotiations "before it is too late."

"I think they would like to make a deal and we would like to make a deal," Trump said during a visit to Ireland.

"It has been going pretty well because there hasn't been testing of anything major and there has been no nuclear testing," he said. "I became president, and before that, it was all the time nuclear testing, ballistic missile testing and now there is nothing."

This positive sentiment is shared by Scott Seaman, a director at Eurasia Group, a U.S.-based think tank.

"Both Kim and President Donald Trump want to prevent engagement from running completely off the rails," Seaman said.

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